And if you have been following this weblog for some time, you will know that it was Dean Johnson, the singer/songwriter who runs The Wilfred Owen Story museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead (seen here in a still from the programme opening the museum with the Female Poets Exhibition visible on the wall), who asked me to produce the first Exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War. That was back in April 2012, shortly after I had volunteered to help behind the scenes after seeing a performance of "Bullets and Daffodils"++ which is also featured in the Inside Out report.
Also mentioned was a letter which came to light when Mal Robinson - who was also raised in Birkenhead - produced this year's week-long London showing of "Bullets and Daffodils" - found a letter written by Susan Owen to his grandmother, who was of German origin.
It seems that Susan Owen helped out her German neighbours by weaning their three-month old daughter who became her God-daughter. Until that letter came to light, it was assumed that Susan hated living in Birkenhead but, if you look at the Wilfred Owen's Wirral map** (by kind permission of Wirral Methodist Housing Association), you will see that Wilfred's Aunt and Uncle lived in Meols which is still a delightful, small, unspoilt, residential village near the sea. And New Brighton was not far from Birkenhead, nor were large areas of woodland, where the Owen family took their walks. So the Owen family's life in Birkenhead may not have been as bad as formerly reported.
** featured in this posting http://femalewarpoets.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/lest-we-forget.html
If you read "Tuppence to Cross the Mersey" by Helen Forester, which is about a wealthy couple who fall on hard times during the 1930s and move to Liverpool to be near relatives who live on the Wirral, you will read that neighbours always helped each other out.
When I was growing up it was customary for neighbours to greet newcomers with a tray of tea and biscuits - knowing that they might not yet have unpacked kettle or crockery. And a visit from the curate of the local church also always took place during the first week of arrival in a new place. In our family our neighbours were not only friends but they stepped into the shoes of Uncles and Aunts who were either abroad or no longer living. One became God Mother to my sister and another was a very dear Aunt to me all my life. Auntie Brenda's father was a stretcher bearer during WW1 - a huge, bear of a man who we always called "Uncle Bob" - I think of them whenever I write anything on my blog.
For those who do not live in the North West of England, the programme is visible for six days from 1st October 2013 on I-Player - Inside Out North West, Monday, 30th September 2013 19.30
++ "Bullets and Daffodils" will be performed on Friday, 4th October 2013 at The Theatre On The Steps, Bridgnorth Shropshire. Tickets: £9 and £7 for concessions.
For further information contact Dean Johnson
The Wilfred Owen Story
34 Argyle Street
Tel.: 07539 371925